Christmas Spirit

This is a less tongue-in-cheek (but only slightly) update to a previous post about the excess of Christmas. I wanted to shoot down some assumptions we make about our culture and the way people celebrate Christmas.

There are plenty of fascinating facts here, but I’m particularly fascinated by these:

87% – Americans who believe holidays should be more about family and caring for others, not giving and receiving gifts.
79% – Do not believe it’s necessary to spend a lot of money in order to have a fulfilling and enjoyable holiday.
$457.4 billion – Expected holiday sales in 2006.
$435.6 billion – Holiday sales in 2005.
$15.8 billion – Amount spent on new holiday decorations in 2005.
87% – People who donated money to a charity in 2005 (religious or nonreligious).
62% – People who donated their time to a charity in 2005 (religious or nonreligious).
50% – Yearly charitable donations made between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
$260 billion – Total charitable donations in 2005

According to those stats, Americans probably give a little more than 1/4 as much to charity as they do to retailers everywhere. That may sound materialistic, but when you consider that HALF of charitable giving comes between Thanksgiving and New Years, you can say with confidence that nonmaterialistic giving spikes over the holidays. America, as a culture, becomes less greedy and materialistic at Christmas. Tax-motivated as it may be, the giving speaks for itself. Yes, America consumes more at Christmas. But we give more, too!

I know a lot of people feel they need to make a choice between giving lots of presents, giving nothing at all, or giving to charities instead. The nothing at all people can be set aside for this discussion. I mean, we can divide them into two categories: people who don’t celebrate Christmas, and people who are cheap as dirt. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, that’s fine. No law saying you have to. That’s another discussion. And if you’re just plain stingy, you probably have a very holy-esque reason for being like that. Regardless, if you don’t believe in giving, than this discussion is moo.

But if you do believe in celebrating Christmas with giving of one form or another, it doesn’t have to be either one form or the other. Don’t assume you have to choose between charity and personal gifts. In fact, I’ve got serious questions about that practice. I’m not ready to have the “Listen, Son, this Christmas I’m going to give to the needy instead of to you” discussion. Nor would I want to say, “Sorry, hungry kids, my son wants a Wii.” It’s good to give gifts to your children, your friends, and your family. It’s good to give to charity. It’s good to do both without clinging to your cash (or deepening your debt).

I guess my point(s) is (are) . . . don’t judge people based on the number of gifts under their trees. Be more concerned with your own motives for giving or not giving. Teach your kids to give generously by giving generously to them and by giving them the opportunity to give as well.

December 21, 2007 question

Believe it or not, the last ex-Beatle big hit was “I Got My Mind Set On You” by George Harrison. It’s been so long that only Heidi remembered . . . and Jessie, calling it “the Money song” which is good enough this close to Christmas.

See, this is that time of year when Santa expands his “Good” list just to up his quantity for lower production costs. It’s the same thing with trivia. If we go through a right-answer dry spell, it starts costing me a lot more per correct response, and I really need a higher conversion rate to justify the continuation of this here trivia game. Sorry to reveal the business side of trivia, but if we have to make some cutbacks in 2008, it’s best that you’re prepared with a little foundational knowledge.

What the heck are you talking about, Adam? Oh, right . . . thanks, internal voice. On to trivial matters. Here’s today’s question:

Who is Roger Clemens’ lawyer?

A) Rusty Harden
B) Rocky Rhodes
C) Dusty Stifle
D) Eugene Stone
E) Buster Yucks

Overheard . . . pt. 3

“How do turtles pee?”
– Addison

How do turtles pee? I just read about it here (don’t follow this link unless you really want to know, it’s kind of gross) and I still have no idea how to answer that question. I never thought about it until now. As it turns out, a turtle’s got a very complicated back door.

From what I can tell, the best answer is that they pee in the pool.

December 20, 2007 question

Clement Moore or Henry Livingston Jr.? That’s another question surrounding our last trivia subject, ” ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” or as it was originally titled, “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas.” No one got it quite right, but Pat was closest.

I had forgotten the hubbub from seven years back when Don Foster, an expert on authorial attribution, claimed that there was no way that Clement Moore wrote the poem. He was a stern, unimaginative, stick-in-the-mud Bible professor who would never have written the poem and probably never could have.

I love a good Christmas controversy. Here’s a yet-again unrelated bit of trivia for you:

What was the last song performed by an ex-Beatle to top the Billboard pop chart?

December 18, 2007 question

Here was the inaugural class of the Songwriter Hall of Fame:

Ahlert, Fred; Ball, Ernest; Bates, Katharine Lee; Berlin, Irving; Billings, William; Bland, James; Brockman, James; Brown, Lew; Brown, Nacio Herb; Bryan, Alfred; Burke, Joe; Burke, Johnny; Caldwell, Anne; Carroll, Harry; Clare, Sidney; Cohan, George M.; Conrad, Con; Coslow, Sam; Danks, Hart P.; De Koven, Reginald; De Rose, Peter; De Sylva, B.G. (Buddy); Dixon, Mort; Donaldson, Walter; Dresser, Paul; Dreyer, Dave; Dubin, Al; Duke, Vernon; Edwards, Gus (The Star Maker); Egan, Raymond B.; Emmett, Daniel Decatur; Fiorito, Ted; Fisher, Fred; Foster, Stephen; Gershwin, George; Gilbert, L. Wolfe; Gilmore, Patrick S.; Gordon, Mack; Grofe, Ferde; Guthrie, Woody; Hammerstein II, Oscar; Handy, W.C. (Father of the Blues); Hanley, James F.; Harbach, Otto; Harris, Charles K.; Hart, Lorenz (Larry); Henderson, Ray; Herbert, Victor; Hill, Billy; Howard, Joe; Howe, Julia Ward; Jacobs Bond, Carrie; Johnson, Howard; Johnson, James P.; Johnson, James W.; Johnston, Arthur; Jones, Isham; Joplin, Scott (King of Ragtime); Kahal, Irving; Kahn, Gus; Kalmar, Bert; Kern, Jerome; Key, Francis Scott; Ledbetter, Huddie (Leadbelly); Lewis, Sam; Loesser, Frank; MacDonald, Ballard; Madden, Edward; McCarthy, Joseph; McHugh, Jimmy; Meyer, George W.; Monaco, Jimmy; Moret, Neil; Morse, Theodore; Muir, Lewis F.; Nevin, Ethelbert; Norworth, Jack; Olcott, Chauncey; Payne, John Howard; Pierpont, J.S.; Pollack, Lew; Porter, Cole; Rainger, Ralph; Revel, Harry; Rexford, Eben E.; Rodgers, Jimmie (Father of Country Music); Rodgers, Richard; Romberg, Sigmund; Root, George F.; Rose, Billy; Rose, Vincent; Ruby, Harry; Russell, Bob; Schwartz, Jean; Smith, Harry B.; Smith, Samuel Francis; Snyder, Ted; Sousa, John Phillip; Sterling, Andrew B.; Tierney, Harry A.; Tobias, Charles; Turk, Roy; Van Alstyne, Egbert; Von Tilzer, Albert; Von Tilzer, Harry; Waller, Thomas (“Fats”); Ward, Samuel A.; Weill, Kurt; Wenrich, Percy; Whiting, Richard; Williams, Clarence; Williams, Hank; Williams, Spencer; Winner, Septimus (Sep); Woods, Harry M.; Work, Henry C.; Wrubel, Allie; Youmans, Vincent; Young, Joe; Young, Rida Johnson; Young, Victor


And here’s who knew: Reg, Micaela, Gene, and Charles. They didn’t know all of them. But they each got one. Now here’s a Christmas question that I’m regifting, because I’m sure it’s been asked many times, many ways:


What is the original title of the Clement Clarke Moore poem commonly referred to as ” ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”?




When was it written?

Guy Love

There’s something about Turk and J. D.

There are some friendships that you can never duplicate. There are plenty of friendships to be forged in this world, but in my experience . . . I’m sorry, I have to break out the term, as second-grade as it sounds . . . best friends come along only once in a very long while, maybe your whole life. The Chandler to your Joey. The Denny to your Alan . The Paul to your Kevin. The Tom to your Huck. The Jonathan to your David. The Turner to your Hooch.

Some people don’t believe in best friends, but I definitely do. I doubt that everyone truly finds one, but should you be lucky enough, it is one of the great fulfilling joys you’ll ever know. It’s hard to describe. A good friend can make your world feel right, keep you thinking straight, give you the confidence to be the person you believe God designed you to be.

Best friends, I genuinely believe, are connected at the soul, and they don’t mind the intrusion. I miss mine. It’s been about four years, but the funny thing is, if I saw him right now, it would be like we’ve been living next door to each other for the last ten years. Still, I miss him. I’ve got two sons who would love to get to know him. Here’s to hoping they get the chance.

I Am Not a Mom

I am a man. But I’m married to a mom. And since this blog is purportedly from the Kelloggs (version 3 because I’m the third child and point 4 because there are now four of us) I thought that it’s about time Heather had a voice on this page. While she did not type a word of this post, I have no problem believing that this video does a nice job expressing the typical day in her world.

The song has its cultural connotations (The William Tell overture and The Lone Ranger theme) and I can’t say they’re entirely inapplicable. I’m sure there are days (i.e. most of them) when she feels like the Lone Ranger and still others (probably not too much more than half) when she feels like firing an arrow in our son’s general direction. She is the best. But being the best doesn’t come without its share of frustrations. View, listen, and laugh with (not at, surely not at) the summarized travails of mommyhood.

December 17, 2007 question

How did I not give you the answer yet? It’s unfathomable, especially if you’re new at fathoming. If you can remember back to Thursday when we last plumbed the depths of trivia, I had asked you what kingdom was founded on Christmas of 1000. The answer was Hungary. Nobody knew that. But you know what? That’s okay. It’s Christmas time. Were it not Christmas time, it would still be okay.

What’s not okay? Performance enhancing drugs. I’m thinking about adding a rule to the trivia bylaws. Baseball and the rest of the sporting world has inspired me. I’m going to hire an impartial investigator (me . . . but just the part of me that is impartial) to look into allegations of rampant trivia cheating. I will question some of you, I won’t expect a response from any of you, and then I’ll make a final conclusion that affects all of you.

Gag. I think the thing that bothers me most about the state of baseball is the attitude of the press, particularly the voters for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Many of them (and enough of them to matter) refuse to cast a Hall of Fame vote for anyone mentioned in the Mitchell report. They compare this scandal to the Black Sox scandal of 1919. But you know what the biggest difference between the scandals is? The fixed World Series story broke because of a newspaper article alleging the fix. The steroid scandal story broke because Jose Canseco published a book.

Don’t you point the fingers, baseball writers of America. On the whole, you stink at your job, you fell asleep on the job, and electing members to the Hall of Fame should no longer be your job.

Okay, who’s happy? Here’s today’s question:

Who is one of the 121 artists (any name will do) inducted to the inaugural class of the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970?